Both BJP and AAP to blame for hazardous pollution levels in Yamuna, which gets highlighted only during Chhath

The chief responsibility lies on the BJP for the entire stretch of Yamuna, since it is directly or indirectly ruling the states of Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh which the river passes through

Both BJP and AAP to blame for hazardous pollution levels in Yamuna, which gets highlighted only during Chhath

Dr Gyan Pathak

Pollution in Yamuna in Delhi has always been highlighted every year as is currently being done. We witness some trading of charges and then everyone becomes calm. The pollution remains as usual. The reason is the very low and narrow mindset of the ruling political parties, who the river to be polluted and deny access to clean water as a basic human right. Modi government even abstained in a motion in the United Nations Human Rights Council that recognized access to clean environment a basic human right recently.

Modi government’s attitude regarding access to clean water as a human right is thus clear, which is reflected in the faulty policy decisions of the government that contribute to pollution in all the rivers in the country and not only the Yamuna that flows under its nose in Delhi, the seat of power from where it rules the country.

The Yamuna flows only 22 kilometres in Delhi, which is less than 2 per cent of its length of 1370 km from its origin at Yamunotri to Prayagraj, but the city accounts for 80 per cent of the pollution.

The Centre led by BJP cannot cover its callousness under the local BJP leaders trading charges with the AAP that rules the city government for two reasons – first, the pollution is monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and second, through an Act passed in Parliament, definition of Government of Delhi is meant to read ‘Lieutenant Government of Delhi’, reports to the Centre.

Thus, putting all the blame on the city government led by the AAP is ridiculous, though some of the actions of the AAP leadership are also responsible for the high levels of pollution in the Yamuna.

Moreover, we have been implementing the Ganga Action Plan for decades, which also covers Yamuna, and this programmes is also run under the Union Ministry of Water Resource, now under Ministry of Jalshakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

The highly polluted Yamuna joins the Ganga at the confluence of Prayagraj. Thus, this river has also religious significance in Hinduism, which is being exploited by the BJP in the name of Hindutva, but has a record of utterly neglecting both the Yamuna and the Ganga for years.

According to the Hindu mythology, Yami or Yamuna is the daughter of the Sun God, and the Ganga is the goddess originating from the toe nail of God Vishnu, one of whose incarnations, Lord Rama, has been used as a political tool to exploit the Hindu votes, but no one cares for the cleanliness of the holy water of both the rivers. The BJP thus cannot shift the blame entirely to AAP; rather the chief responsibility lies on the BJP for the entire stretch of Yamuna, since it is directly or indirectly ruling the states of Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh which the river passes through.

The issue of pollution of Yamuna has come to the fore now because of Chhath when men and women offer water to the Sun God while standing in the highly polluted water with foam at its surface, which is a sign of it being extremely hazardous. Though ridiculous, we cannot laugh it off that the Delhi government deployed 15 boats to remove the froth with the help of ropes.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) conceived this plan which is being implemented by the local government led by AAP with the help of the Irrigation & Flood Control Department and Revenue Department. It is just a temporary measure only for the appeasement of voters, but the problem will certainly persist till the sewage treatment plants in Delhi are upgraded and put in operation. There cannot be a short term solution for a long term issue.

Foaming is only one, and short term issue, the primary reason of which is high level of phosphate in the water released through the detergents used in dyeing industries, dhobi ghats and households. Needless to say, even regarding this temporary problem, the governments are not doing their duty and large amount of phosphate is being drained into Yamuna, though the Delhi government has taken some action, such as banning sale, storage, transportation, and marketing of soaps and detergents not conforming to the latest BIS standards.

The Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) are still discharging almost untreated effluent into the Yamuna. All the eight major drains and other numerous smaller drains contribute to pollution in the Yamuna due to their untreated water and sewage.

On an average, 24 out of 35 STPs in Delhi did not meet the prescribed standard of wastewater over the last one year, while only six out of 13 CETPs in industrial areas comply with DPCC standard.

Then there is the problem of capacity. Delhi generates 720 million gallons of wastewater (MGD) daily, but has the capacity to treat upto only 597 MGD, that too if they operate at 90 per cent of their installed capacity. Who is at fault for all this if not the Centre and the state? State is dependent on Centre for fund and land, while inaction of the state officials is also greatly contributing to the pollution level.

Due to hazardous pollution level in Yamuna, AAP has put some restrictions to the Chhath celebrations, but the BJP leaders have alleged that AAP has done so to hide the “pathetic state of the river.” On the other hand, the AAP leadership has blamed Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for pollution. In this way, both are hiding their own faults and inactions in making Yamuna clean.

India must recognize access to clean environment as a basic human right and frame all laws and policies accordingly, so that we can have not only a clean Yamuna but all the rivers in the country.

(IPA Service)

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